QUEENS, N.Y. - As the city and state try to clamp down on climbing positive COVID tests in Queens, doctors at Jamaica Hospital say they are prepared if a second wave of COVID-19 cases surges in the city.
They have identified space to expand patient capacity, amassed a 90-day supply of masks and other personal protective equipment, and have trained medical staff for months.
“Our non-critical care nurses have been trained now to take care of critical care patients,” said Dr. Sabiha Raoof, Chief Medical Officer, MediSys Health Network, which includes both Jamaica and Flushing Hospitals.
It’s a plan hospital leaders hope will not be needed. But Jamaica Hospital is near the red and orange zones, areas identified by the state as having a troubling rise in COVID cases, so the doctors say they must be ready.
The number of COVID patients at Jamaica and Flushing hospitals has been stable. They usually admit no more than two COVID patients a day. Some days, they admit none.
“We have a process of screening every patient, every visitor and every staff member who comes into the building. That will not change. We will be vigilant and continue our screening process,” said Dr. Shi-Wen Lee, vice chair of emergency medicine at Jamaica Hospital.
Dr. Lee says the governor's designation of color-coded zones to reflect an increase in cases is a reminder about the need for hand-washing, mask wearing, and social distancing. It’s guidance that will hopefully keep residents healthy.
But to Dr. Alan Roth, chairman of the family medicine department, the new restrictions are also a reminder for New Yorkers to seek preventative health services now. He suggests people refill prescriptions and complete needed checkups to avoid problems if COVID cases surge and put new demands on the health care system.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen, so we are really reaching out, preparing for a second wave, preparing for more COVID patients and post-COVID patients. We are really stressing wellness and health right now,” Dr. Roth said.
The three doctors, each serving various health care needs of the Queens community, say the hospital stands ready to take on more patients, COVID and non-COVID, in the coming weeks and months as needed.
“I want them to feel comfortable that this hospital is here for them and we will be able to handle a surge if that second surge happens,” Dr. Raoof said.